Here are three things worth knowing from around the NBA Tuesday, things we learned about the league while glued to election coverage with a growing disbelieving etched on our face…
1) LeBron James did a lot of losing on Tuesday night. There were some surprising upsets Tuesday night — and both went poorly for LeBron James. The bigger one, and certainly the one that hits him harder, is Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. LeBron had endorsed Clinton and campaigned for her in recent days in Ohio — a swing state that went red for Trump, like virtually every swing state.
Then on the court Tuesday, the Cavaliers offense ran into the Hawks’ defense that has been one of the best in the league this season — the Cavs’ shot 37.4 percent in a home loss to Atlanta. LeBron had just two points in the first half, but in the third had 16 and helped spark a Cavs run, it just wasn’t something the team sustained into the fourth (and the Hawks kept making plays). Kyrie Irving added 29 points, but J.R. Smith was 2-of-13, and Channing Frye was 5-of-15 to highlight Cleveland’s shooting woes. The bigger issue for the Cavs was a coasting effort to start — something they have done a few times this season and gotten away with. They don’t need to play 48 sharp minutes to beat most teams, but a hot third quarter is not enough against a solid Atlanta team.
That’s another thing here — Atlanta is good. Dwight Howard continues to play his role and had 17 boards and three blocks. The Hawks are cleaning up the glass and did that again Tuesday. Paul Millsap was making plays. Kent Bazemore was knocking down shots. Mike Muscala was throwing it down (and landing hard). And when Dennis Schroeder goes off for a career-high 28, Atlanta is going to get the win.
2) Portland’s big two still carrying team to big wins. The Trail Blazers are 5-3 after holding off a charging Phoenix team to secure a 124-121 win Tuesday. The Blazers once again are looking like a playoff team (granted, it’s early), and they are doing it the way they did it last year — behind a dynamic scoring duo at guard. They carried the Blazers Tuesday. First, there was Damian Lillard’s 38 points — 22 in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.
Then there was C.J. McCollum dropping 33, 18 in the first quarter.
Evan Turner still has not found his way with Portland, but they are getting enough other contributions — Maurice Harkless had 20 Tuesday. The Blazers are just outscoring teams again and not playing much defense, but it worked again on Tuesday.
3) No Dirk Nowitzki. No Deron Williams. Mavericks still on a two-game win streak. Whether any media member is covering them or not, Dallas has had a couple of nice wins in a row. Tuesday night they went into Staples Center and beat a Lakers’ team playing fairly well. It was a game decided in the final six minutes and Dallas just executed better. The Lakers are going to lose games like this all season, it’s still a learning experience for them.
Dallas has won two in a row and Harrison Barnes has dropped 30+ two games in a row. Not a coincidence.